University’s Continued Response to Middle East Conflict

Friday, October 20, 2023

Dear Students:

We have heard from many of you and your families about the horrific terrorist attack on Israel, the ongoing loss of life in Israel and Gaza and the impact this escalating conflict is having on our community. Below is an update on steps the University has taken since the deadly attack in Israel on Oct. 7 and the expanding conflict that has followed. We are focused on ensuring your safety and well-being.

University Response

Chancellor Kent Syverud has issued two statements that have been shared with students, faculty and staff:

  • On Monday, Oct. 9, Chancellor Syverud issued the first of two messages to the campus, condemning the deadly acts of terrorism committed by Hamas against Israel, confirming no members of our community were traveling in the area or in harm’s way at the time of these attacks, and providing an overview of resources and services available to students, faculty and staff. The Chancellor also called on the campus community to extend kindness, respect and compassion to those suffering and grieving. Read his full Oct. 9 statement.
  • On Monday, Oct. 16, after observing the developments overseas and the sharp increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia here in the U.S. and globally, Chancellor Syverud issued a second message to the community. In this message, Chancellor Syverud reiterated our condemnation of the horrific terror attack on Israel, expressed our concern for the developing humanitarian crisis in the region and reminded our community that we must reject antisemitism, Islamophobia and terrorism. He reminded our students, faculty and staff that the pursuit of knowledge and respect and true understanding of others is the best antidote to hate. He also communicated steps being taken to keep our community safe, including an elevated presence of Department of Public Safety personnel on and around our campus, including key gathering spaces of faith for our students.

The Office of Academic Affairs issued a message to all faculty calling on them to be mindful in how they engage you—our students, as some are feeling particularly vulnerable, distraught or concerned. We know we have many Jewish and Muslim students, as well as many who have strong ties to the impacted region, or are concerned about family, loved ones and their homes.

We’ve received reports of a small number of classroom interactions in which students have felt unfairly targeted or distressed by the tone and language involved. The University takes these reports seriously, is looking into them and will take appropriate action if warranted. A few faculty and departments have issued statements of their own about the conflict that some see as provocative or offensive. Free speech and academic freedom permit such statements of opinion on matters of importance, but these opinions do not speak for or on behalf of Syracuse University. Any statements made by individual faculty or departments should not be interpreted as the University’s position. We believe the free exchange of ideas and constructive public discourse can be valuable in increasing understanding, particularly in times like these. But we also believe this is best achieved when done in a respectful manner in which we genuinely listen to each other.

We are also aware of the chalking on sidewalks on the University Quad earlier this week in violation of University policy and was promptly removed once reported to us. Our students, faculty and staff can, and often do, hold divergent views on matters of local, national and global importance, and the University continues to reinforce that such disagreements be conducted in a manner that displays good faith and respect. We also ask that our students share their opinions in ways that do not violate the University’s Conduct Code.

The University is supporting multiple organizations on campus and providing space for communities to come together to reflect on and process the terrorist attack on Israel, the ensuing conflict and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the wider region. This includes the two well-attended vigils led by Jewish and later Muslim faith leaders, students and community members (on Oct. 11 and 18, respectively) and educational programming in which faculty have provided opportunities for constructive and respectful discourse around the conflict, including a recent Maxwell School panel featuring scholars with specific expertise on the topic. We encourage you to consider participating in the Interfaith Vigil for World Peace at Hendricks Chapel on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 8 p.m. This vigil will be hosted by the 14 chaplains and 27 religious and spiritual life groups at Syracuse. All are welcome to this interfaith gathering.

Resources and Supports

We recognize this situation brings forth understandable emotions and encourage you to take full advantage of the resources and services available to you. We have created a landing page with some of the most relevant resources, which can be found by visiting Resources and Supports for the Orange Community.

Safety Planning

Since the events of Oct. 7 occurred, the University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been conducting security assessments, in close partnership with local and federal law enforcement officials. As a result of this partnership, we are closely monitoring activities and events on and around campus and where appropriate, assigning additional public safety personnel. Our DPS team will remain in close contact with our law enforcement partners, and take additional action, as appropriate. If you observe or experience activity perceived to present a risk to safety, please report it to DPS immediately. You can report a crime, threat or suspicious activity by calling 315.443.2224. Anonymous tips can be reported to DPS through the Silent Witness tool or the Orange Safe mobile app.

STOP Bias and Hate Initiative

If you experience an incident you believe to be motivated by hostility toward your identity (including ethnic or religious identity), we ask you to report it using our online STOP Bias system so it may be appropriately addressed. The STOP Bias and Hate Initiative webpage outlines resources to report and receive support for such incidents. You may also elect to report a bias-motivated incident directly to the Department of Public Safety via the options on the Report a Crime webpage.

We recognize this is a difficult time for so many in our community and are committed to supporting you, especially those most directly impacted. Please do not hesitate to reach out to the services we’ve included above. We have a team of professionals here to support you as we all navigate these challenging times together.


Gretchen Ritter
Vice Chancellor, Provost and Chief Academic Officer

Allen Groves
Senior Vice President and Chief Student Experience Officer